PONTYPOOL have slammed the “lamentable decision” by the Welsh Rugby Union that will deny them a shot at promotion in the coming season and called for the immediate resignation of the community game board.

Pooler - Championship title winners in 2017, 2018 and 2019 - have been hunting a place in the Premiership since their demotion in 2012.

In 2019/20 they were top of the Championship and battling with Bargoed for a place in the top flight when the coronavirus pandemic led to the suspension and then cancellation of the season.

Pontypool backed that call by the WRU but have been left exasperated by the decision for there to be no promotion or relegation in 2021/22.

The governing body have announced that all divisions from the Championship to Division Three will kick-off on November 13 with the Premiership getting under way on December 11.

The return of ‘proper’ rugby is welcome – but Pooler will not be playing for the Premiership despite spending money to push for promotion.

“This means that, yet again, Pontypool RFC has been denied the opportunity to earn promotion to the WRU Indigo Premiership until 2023 at the earliest,” read a club statement.

“In announcing its decision, the WRU has once again eliminated the most captivating and valuable aspect of competitive sport - jeopardy. The governing body has lost sight of the fact that its remit is to facilitate competition, not stifle it.

“This is the latest instalment of a long list of inept and rudderless decisions that further demonstrates the WRU is not fit for purpose and is in desperate need of reform.

“The lamentable announcement is a direct consequence of the WRU being governed by a board of directors who lack both the experience and competence required to serve the best interests of the member clubs they are duty bound to represent.

“For over 12 months, Pontypool RFC has repeatedly asked the WRU to confirm its position regarding promotion and relegation for the 2021/22 season.

“The club stressed that it was at a critical moment in terms of setting its annual budget and planning its squad and staff development ahead of next season. Without clarity, the club faced being completely unprepared for any future league campaign.

“Time and time again, the WRU dismissed the club’s requests and stated that its Community Game Board were yet to make any firm decisions regarding promotion and relegation and the structure of future league programmes.

“This protracted lack of decisive leadership and quality communication subsequently forced Pontypool RFC to blindly plan for next season in the hope that promotion to the WRU Indigo Premiership would be on the table.

“The club has invested in a competitive squad that will now be condemned to at least two further seasons in the WRU National Championship, irrespective of what the club achieves on the field.

“The fact Pontypool RFC has now received the WRU’s decision a mere matter of weeks before the 2021/22 season commences is nothing short of gross mismanagement by the WRU’s Community Game Board.

“Pontypool RFC should not have been placed in this position and the club’s investment for next season is now all for nothing.”

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Pontypool have rebuild since their demotion with chairman Peter Jeffreys ploughing money into the club.

They blew a golden chance in 2016 when they missed out on the four promotion spots and in 2019 they lost a promotion/relegation play-off against Llanelli.

Head coach Leighton Jones has build a formidable squad and the revamped Ray Prosser Stand is nearing completion but Pooler will not be able to join Ebbw Vale and Newport at the top table of the semi-professional game.

“Over the last seven years, Pontypool RFC has responded to the WRU’s continuous incompetence with a proactive attitude,” continued the statement.

“We have accepted its decisions and have done our talking on the pitch, as our immense on-field achievements demonstrate.

“But this time, enough is enough. The WRU must be held to account for its actions. Pontypool RFC is therefore calling for the entire Community Game Board to resign from their positions with immediate effect.

“It has demonstrated that it cannot be entrusted with making decisions designed to safeguard the integrity of Welsh club rugby and the club has no confidence in its ability to govern the sport moving forward.

“Notwithstanding this, the club wishes to place on record its full and unequivocal support for the WRU’s community director, Geraint John.

“Throughout this saga, Geraint has treated the club with respect and dignity. He is not the problem.

“Pontypool RFC will now take time to reflect on how the club wishes to further respond to these developments.”

The WRU outlined their reasons for a lack of promotion and relegation when announcing the changes for the coming campaign.

“The main aims this season are to return to the full community game swiftly but as safely as possible while supporting the development of players, coaches, referees and teams and welcoming supporters back to grounds during this transitional period,” read a statement.